Some provinces are nevertheless making progress.
A report released Thursday by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) says the cost of infant care in Toronto is nearly ten times that of Montreal.
The median monthly cost in Toronto is $1,675 compared to $175 in Montreal, making the two cities the most and least expensive in Canada.
Since 2017, child-care costs have risen faster than inflation in 61 per cent of Canadian cities, the report found. Waiting lists are commonplace. Parents are even known to place their unborn children on lists before they’ve shared the news with their loved ones.
Fees can be incredibly high — $1,000 a month for preschoolers is not an uncommon cost, according to the report.
Nevertheless, the fifth annual such survey by the CCPA reflects some “really interesting new changes with several important provincial initiatives backed, to some degree, by federal money,” said co-author David Macdonald, senior economist at the institute.
Quebec is a key example, where a universal child-care program has been in place since 1997, researchers said.
The survey reported on costs of care for three age groups: infants, toddlers and preschoolers. No matter the age group, fees were lowest in Quebec cities, coming in under $200 a month.
These were followed by cities in Manitoba and Prince Edward Island, which have also had set-fee child-care programs in place for years. Parents in Winnipeg can expect to pay around $651 a month for infant care, while those in Charlottetown pay a little more at $738.
Three new provinces introduced measures to lower child-care costs in 2018 — Newfoundland and Labrador, Alberta and B.C.
While some provinces made strides toward lower fees in 2018, those changes were overshadowed by the fact that fees remain “astronomical” in most cities, the CCPA said in a statement.